"A Dangerous Method" Works to Perfection!

Film #3
A Dangerous Method

This is the third and final review chronicling the working relationship of director David Cronenberg and actor Viggo Mortensen.  "A Dangerous Method" portrays the relationship between the two fathers of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. 

In a year (2011) when the Academy recognized and honored some real crap and decided to ignore and brush off films like "A Dangerous Method" is easy to see how the Oscars become more and more irrelevant as the years go on.  "A Dangerous Method" delivers an all-star cast featuring brilliant performances by Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender, and the aforementioned Mortensen.  This film also has one of the best musical scores of the year. How it was shut out from any Academy nominations is hard to believe.  Shame on you Academy voters! (stepping down off my soapbox)

The film opens in 1904 Zurich, Switzerland with a young woman named Sabina Speilrein (Knightley) being brought in kicking and screaming to a mental institution and into the care of Dr. Carl Jung (Fassbender).  Jung has decided that this is the patient he will use a new course of treatment called "the talking cure" invented by his colleague Dr. Sigmund Freud in Vienna.  The theory being that all people need to heal their mind is to talk out their problems.  Knightley deserved a best actress nom for her performance as Sabina.  The physical and emotional weight she brings to the character is something to admire.  Dr. Jung finds out that Sabina was abused by her father and this led to all kinds of sexual repression.  She's developed a fetish so that she becomes excited by being spanked or humiliated.  This repression and embarrassment have driven her to the brink of madness.

We finally get to meet Dr. Freud when Jung goes to meet him in Vienna.  As usual, Mortensen doesn't disappoint as the cigar-chomping doctor who's opinion is that everything is some way or another is related to sex.  He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work.  Freud and Jung have two different views on interpreting peoples minds.  Freud thinks Jung is too much of a mystic, relying on dream interpretation and premonitions.  Jung disputes Freud's claim that everything boils down to sex, that it's too simplistic and that Freud himself is quite repressed.

If there is one thing that could be said about this film is that like it's doctors it's very cold and clinical.  Sabina's Russian accent and mannerism are sometimes pretty robotic, but this is who she is.  Sabina is very self-conscious and doesn't seem to be that comfortable in her own skin.  As treatment progresses Jung can only hold off a physical relationship with her for so long and eventually crosses the doctor and patient line.  Their affair while at times intense is still pretty clinical and subdued.  Jung is also married and has two girls, but his wife is quite insecure and fears he will leave her if she doesn't give him a son.  Questions of whether monogamy is natural are also raised.

Over the years Jung and Freud write letters back and forth and Sabina always seems to come between them.  Sabina is a very smart and articulate woman and dreams of being a psychoanalyst herself.  Her relationship with the two famous doctors give her the confidence and experience to finally realized her dream.  This movie was adapted from the book "A Most Dangerous Game" and the play "The Talking Cure".  It is now available in several video formats and should be NOT be missed!